There were no flashing lights or mobs of reporters for this group of players. No lavish team presentations, no impromptu fan rallies, and certainly, no hour-long TV specials.
It was the summer of free agents and the league did not disappoint in the speculation, drama, and subsequent backlash that came from it. The media world stayed well-armed with cameras and recorders ready for the latest news out of South Beach, New York, or Chicago. But for these guys, things were much different when they inked their deals. Just the players themselves, a contract and a chance to make their mark on the hoops world.
For these men, the summer was far different from what it was for your LeBrons, your Carlos Boozers, even your 38-year-old Shaqs. Career journeymen or up-and-comers stuck in the wrong system, or behind the wrong players, waiting for their chance to find their niche.
But for well-informed front offices and fanbases, these are often the signings that can win championships or earn playoff berths. Think of the San Antonio Spurs bringing in an unknown Stephen Jackson in 2001 to push for a roster spot, or later, taking a flier on Brent Barry in 2004 to see if the former Slam Dunk Champion had anything left in the tank. Or the Detroit Pistons rolling the dice on an up-and-coming Chauncey Billups in 2002.
These players are poised to help a veteran team make another deep playoff run or help bring together a youthful group looking to carve their place in the NBA hierarchy.
These 10 players will factor heavily in the 2010-11 NBA season. You just may not realize it yet.